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Signifying Beijing: Legitimizing innovation in the Chinese jingju play Camel Xiangzi

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Jingju (Beijing/Peking opera) is a synthesis of elements of many different regional forms and has a ‘tradition’ of innovation and integration of diverse influences. But it currently sits at the centre of intense conflicting pressures: the need to innovate to attract contemporary audiences and the need to preserve, engendered by its current status as endangered yet nationally representative performing art. As a result, jingju has become a difficult form within which to innovate successfully. This article analyses the interplay of traditional and innovative aural and visual elements in a 1999 award-winning jingju production, Camel Xiangzi. Jingju musical structures provided the core mode of character expression, but were interlaced with Beijing folk melodies and computer-synthesized elements in effective and innovative ways.

Keywords: Beijing opera; Camel Xiangzi; Chinese theatre; Lutuo Xiangzi; Peking opera; jingju

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Victoria University of Wellington

Publication date: August 18, 2011

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  • Studies in Musical Theatre is a refereed journal which considers areas of live performance that use vocal and instrumental music in conjunction with theatrical performance as a principal part of their expressive language.
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